Sailing Sicily

Destinations

<p>Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, is one of Italy's top sailing destinations, with a variety of natural wonders, historic sites and some of Italy's finest cuisine and wines. Sicily’s northern coast is particularly popular for yacht charters, with stops at Palermo, Cefalu, Sant Agata and Milazzo and detours to the captivating volcanic Aeolian Islands to the north. The east coast harbours the cities of Catania and Syracuse and the charming hilltop town of Taormina, while the south coast is home to the historic towns of Mazara del Valo, Agrigento, Sciacca and Licata.</p>
<h2>Tips for a sailing holiday in Sicily</h2>
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<li>Visit Palermo to discover the city’s monumental palaces and churches, explore its vibrant nightlife and taste some of Italy’s most distinctive culinary delights</li>
<li>Sail to the Aeolian islands to swim and snorkel on the glistening black-sand beaches, enjoy a mud bath on Vulcano, dive to discover a drowned Roman port at Panarea, and catch the panoramic views over the archipelago from Stromboli</li>
<li>Visit the UNESCO-protected Valley of the Temples to see some of the best preserved ancient Greek temples in the world’s largest archaeological site</li>
<li>Take the cable car to Mount Etna to walk through the craters and admire the views from a height of over 2,000 metres&nbsp; &nbsp;<br>Ports and marinas in Sicily</li>
</ul>
<p>Sicily has fewer marinas than other parts of Italy, especially considering the island's size, but anchoring among small fishing boats and the absence of large marina complexes only adds to the island's charm and allows its distinctive character to really shine through.</p>
<p>The harbours and marinas on the northern coast are located at San Vito lo Capo, Castellammare, Palermo, San Nicola L’Arena, Cefalu, Sant Agata di Militello, Capo d’Orlando, Portorosa and Milazzo. The main ports along the eastern coast are found at Messina, Taormina, Riposto, Stazzo, Aci Trezza, Ognina, Catalia, Augusta, Syracuse and Marzamemi. The major anchorages on the southern and western coasts include Porto Palo, Pozzallo, Marina di Ragusa, Gela, Licata, San Leone, Porto Empedocle, Sciacca, Mazara del Vallo, Marsala and Trapani.</p>
<h2>Weather in Sicily</h2>
<p>The best time of year to sail to Sicily is between April and October. The island has a typically warm Mediterranean weather, with long, hot summers and moderately cold, rainy winters. Due to the sirocco, a hot wind coming from the Sahara, the southern shores can sometimes reach temperatures of more than 40°C. The average temperature in the summer is around 26°C and sea temperature tends to stay between 25 and 28°C.</p>
<p>Sailing conditions are mostly friendly, with northwesterly winds blowing at 8 to 15 knots during the sailing season. The Strait of Messina is an exception, as the strong, unpredictable currents and heavy ferry traffic make the area unsafe for inexperienced navigators.</p>
<p>When sailing to the Aeolian Islands, sailors must keep an eye on the forecast because there are only two harbours in the archipelago, and gales, while uncommon, can sometimes occur in the spring and early summer.</p>
<h2>Things to do in Sicily</h2>
<p>Palermo, Sicily’s capital city, is the most visited destination on the island. Situated in a bay on the northern coast, the city offers a wealth of historic churches, palaces and museums, as well as some of the island’s best cuisine. It is the center of the UNESCO –protected Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale, a World Heritage Site comprised of nine structures along Sicily’s northern coast built during the Norman Kingdom in the 12th century.</p>
<p>Sicily harbours as many as seven World Heritage Sites, including Mount Etna and the Aeolian Islands, as well as a staggering number of castles, coastal towers and archaeological sites, including some of the world’s best preserved ancient Greek temples and structures.</p>
<p>Mount Etna, Europe’s highest and most active volcano, is located between the cities of Messina and Catania on the east coast. To explore the volcanic landscape up close, visitors can take the Round-Etna railway, which runs in a 110 km-long semi-circle from Catania to Riposto, or they can opt for the cableway, which drops them off at an elevation of 2,500 m, from where they can reach the crater area. Guided walking tours through the craters are available for the more adventurous. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p>
<p>On the southern coast, the UNESCO-protected Valle dei Templi just outside Agrigento is one of the most extraordinary examples of Greek architecture and art. It is the world’s largest archaeological site, stretching across an area of 1,300 hectares.</p>
<p>In the southeast, the Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto - Caltagirone, Militello in Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo Acreide, Ragusa, and Scicli – are a living showcase of the peak of Baroque art in Europe. The Necropolis of Pantalica just northwest of Syracuse is just as impressive. It contains almost 4,000 tombs cut in rock between the 7th and 13th century BC. The Ancient Syracuse, another protected area, harbours the ruins of the Temple of Athena, a Roman amphitheatre, and a Greek theatre.&nbsp;</p>
<p>Taormina, a scenic hillside town in the Messina province, is one of Sicily’s most popular tourist resorts. Despite being relatively small, the town contains an impressive number of historic sites and buildings, including the Teatro Antico, an ancient Greek theatre, and the 10th century Moorish Gothic Palazzo Corvaja.</p>
<h2>Aeolian Islands sailing itinerary</h2>
<p>A yachting holiday is the best way to discover the seven Aeolian Islands, explore their active volcanoes and craters and swim, snorkel and scuba dive in their clear waters. A typical sailing route takes sailors from Vulcano to Lipari, Panarea and Stromboli and then back toward Sicily via Salina, Filicudi and Alicudi. Lipari and Salina are the only islands with proper harbours, while others only offer safe anchorages in good weather.</p>
<p>The archipelago is known for its astonishingly beautiful landscapes, with black-sand beaches, smouldering volcanoes, fumaroles and sulphurous mud baths, as well as for its jet-set hotspots and exclusive boutiques. Stromboli and Vulcano have active volcanoes, while Salina, the archipelago’s greenest island, is known for its thriving wine industry. Panarea, the most beautiful island in the group, is a playground for the rich and the famous and harbours the mesmerizing bay of Cala Junca, the Calcara beach with steaming fumaroles, and a number of small sandy beaches. Filicudi is an excellent destination for diving, with numerous ancient shipwrecks populating its waters, as well as for enjoying good seafood, while Lipari, the largest of the islands, is the main tourism hub. The island is known for its historic buildings, which include the Lipari Castle with a world-class archaeological museum, and for its spectacular rocky coast with mesmerizing views of the neighbouring islands.</p>